Last Updated on September 15, 2023 by Stefano
Let me answer all the most common questions about Italian Pizza. With this Italian Pizza F.A.Q. I am in fact providing you all the relevant information about authentic Italian Pizza. Of course I will be talking about all Italian Pizza styles, from the traditional Neapolitan Pizza to the modern one, including pizza in sheet tray, pizza pan and focaccia.
Consider this article as a work in progress. I am planning to constantly update its content over time. In fact I noticed that there are some common and recurrent pizza questions but also a lot of not so common asks. While producing content on my social media accounts, especially on TikTok, I get a lot of questions about authentic Italian Pizza. Therefore I thought that it would be very useful for readers of this blog to collect all common questions in page.
As always you will get a summary here so you can find quickly the question you are searching for. I created some main categories and under them the most common questions.
Generic Pizza Questions
- What is Italian Pizza?
- Is pizza Italian or American?
- Does Italian pizza have cheese?
- Does Italian pizza have pineapple?
- Does Italian pizza have pepperoni?
- Which Italian Pizza is best?
- What kind of pizza is popular in Italy?
How to make Authentic Italian Pizza Questions
- What are Italian Pizza Ingredients?
- Is Italian pizza dough recipe 00 flour only?
- How do they make Pizza in Italy?
- Do you need an Italian pizza oven?
- Can you share an Italian Pizza Recipe?
- Can you Share Italian Pizza Sauce Recipe?
Italian Pizza Technical Questions
- Fresh Yeast vs dry yeast vs instant yeast
- How much time for pizza dough fermentation
- At what temperature I bake Pizza
If you don’t see a question you would like to get answered, feel free to leave a comment or drop me a message.
What is Italian Pizza
This is a tough question to answer. There is not a catch all definition of Italian pizza. As I tried to explain in another article, Italy is very fragmented when it comes to traditional food. And pizza is no different.
We have tens of different pizza styles. From the South to the North of the country, every region has a traditional pizza. Sometimes you can confuse them with focaccia but they are still called pizza. One of the main differences between pizza and focaccia is in the proofing process. In fact only focaccia requires to have a second proofing in the pan or sheet tray before baking.
If we want to really identify what is Italian Pizza then we need to decide to select the most famous ones. Otherwise we can refer to the process to make pizza. I prefer this second option. However, you can still have some taste of Italian pizza with specific mentions to pizza styles reading this article.
The process to make Italian pizza is summarized in few main steps:
- ingredients selection to prepare the dough: flour, water, yeast, salt are the main pizza ingredients. Sometimes we use preferments, some other times we use sourdough (especially stiff sourdough)
- Dough kneading: by hands or using a mixer.
- First fermentation/maturation: it is called Puntata and can be short or long, depending on the pizza style you are willing to prepare
- Portioning and second fermentation: I guess is pretty straight forward but the second fermentation takes the name appretto.
- Pizza tossing and baking: especially the tossing part can be very different depending on the pizza style you are making. For Neapolitan Pizza you expect to extend a dough ball, while for Roman pizza style you don’t want to flatten the dough.
I explain the process in another article. If I may chose one part of the process that makes an important difference I would say that it is the selection of the right flour. Italian Pizza is prepared mainly with Type 00, Type 0 and Type 1 flours. This is the Italian legal classification of flours. You can compare them with your country, more or less. Also for this I have a dedicated article.
Is Pizza Italian or American
Is this even a question? 😀
So, if we talk about the pizza roots there is no discussion that pizza is an Italian food. It’s not me affirming that, I am nobody. I read several books about this topic. One of the best I think is the one of Luciano Pignataro, a well known journalist and food expert and critic. He wrote a very interesting book: “La pizza: Una storia contemporanea“. Is in Italian only, unfortunately. But, hey, isn’t this a good reason to start learning Italian? 😀 I am joking, of course. However in that book you can find the explanation about why Pizza is Italian.
However, over time, the Pizza game changed and in the last decades or so also United States of America developed several pizza styles. For example the very famous New York Pizza style or the Chicago Pizza style, just to name a few. So, at the end of the day I think that Pizza (at least the modern one) belongs to USA too.
Even though I am Italian and I love Italian food, I really don’t like to battle on this topic.
Does Italian Pizza Have Cheese
Generally yes. The most famous pizzas – like margherita – have cheese. More specifically we use Mozzarella (or fior di latte, to specify that the one to be used is made from cow milk).
On top of mozzarella we also add a bit of grated Pecorino cheese. As alternative we use Parmesan or a mix of the two. In other occasions we use Grana Padano (similar to parmesan but I prefer the first).
Other types of cheese can be used. To mention some: ricotta or stracciatella (not necessarily made with buffalo milk though).
The above are the most common. Then you can top pizza with a lot of other different cheese types.
Does Italian Pizza Have Pineapple
Oh gosh, no! Not this question!
Almost every time I post on social media I get a comment about adding pineapple on my pizza 😀 I know that this is to provoke a reaction, but let me do outing here: I am not against pineapple!
So, to answer the question: the original and authentic Italian pizza never has pineapple!! I never found a pizzeria in Italy offering the Hawaii pizza. And if there is one I would stay far from it! 😀
However, I promised to myself that a day I will try making pizza with pineapple. I think that a good Neapolitan pizza dough, with pineapple caramelized at high temperature can be interesting taste.
Does Italian Pizza Have Pepperoni
Italian pizza has pepperoni as an option. But we need to clarify: what do you mean by pepperoni?
The word pepperoni is slightly different in Italian. In reality, it should with only one P: pePeroni. Moreover, we need to clarify that we mean by the word peperoni, is actually the pepper vegetable! On the contrary, often, pepperoni is considered to be what we call sausage or salame:
I am pretty sure you notice there is a huge difference in words!
That said, Italian pizza is prepared with both Salame and peperoni. The first one is very often used in the famous Pizza Diavola: a hot spicy pizza!
Which Italian Pizza is Best
There is not a best Italian pizza. Every pizza style has its plus and minus. It all comes to your taste at the end of the day.
I personally think that the Neapolitan Pizza is one of the best. But at the same time we have so many pizza styles that is hard to say that it is the best one.
If you are curious to know aspects of other pizza styles I suggest to read my previous article about authentic Italian Pizza.
What Kind Of Pizza Is Popular in Italy
I think that the most popular Italian pizza is the Neapolitan pizza. In one of the different variations that the modern history brought to us.
However that is not the only one. Another famous one is the Roman style pizza. It is baked using high hydration dough (generally around 80% hydration). The result is a very airy crumb, a super crunchy bite and a soft inside feeling.
We have at least another couple of pizza styles that that we can consider as popular pizza in Italy: pinsa romana and round pizza.
The first one is closer to the Roman style pizza but uses a specific mix of flours. Let alone it is served in a typical shape: oval.
On the other side, round pizza, is very often confused to be a Neapolitan pizza. At the end of the day they are both served in same shape. However, they are very different. In fact round pizza is full crunchy, while Neapolitan pizza is soft. Of course they are prepared in a different way. I talked about it in this article.
What Are Italian Pizza Ingredients
The make the basic pizza dough you only need four ingredients: flour, water, yeast and salt. I would say that every pizza has them as main ingredients.
Often we are good to make almost every Italian pizza style with just the four ingredients mentioned above. However, there are situations where you want to add also two more ingredients:
We use the first one only some pizza styles and has a lot of benefits: improves extensibility, affects the taste and more. Malt is used to help the pizza dough fermentation. As you can imagine, both oil and malt, are ingredients with certain effects on the dough. They are not added to a pizza recipe by luck, but to reach specific goals. We can discuss about them if you are interested.
We can then also use potatoes and milk and once again only for some specific pizza styles. For example I have a recipe for pizza as starters where I use milk: mini pizza bites.
Last but not least: sugar. I don’t use sugar in any of my pizza recipe. I think that with modern flours and techniques this ingredient has no reason to be used anymore.
Is Italian pizza dough recipe 00 flour only?
Simple answer is that a pizza dough recipe is not only with 00 flour type. Actually I admit that I don’t use 00 flour at all! I prepare All my pizzas with type 0 flour or less refined ones. Even in the Neapolitan pizza dough I always add a certain amount of Type 1 flour.
But then why a lot of people think that 00 flour is the only pizza flour?
I think that one of the reasons is because of marketing. Some of the most important flour brands, especially selling out of the Italian borders, are adding labels to their flours to specify that they are meant for pizza. And when this happens they often mention “Pizza Flour” on type 00. This is making you thinking that for pizza you need a 00 flour.
In reality, when the brands are mentioning that a flour is good for pizza, they are referring to the rheological aspects of that flour.
For the sake of completeness I have to say that the AVPN (the Association that keeps track of the original Traditional Neapolitan Pizza) associates are very often only using type 00 or type 0 flour.
How do they make Pizza in Italy?
What a nice question! Don’t you agree?
We have two ways of making pizza: following the traditions of our families or following a process that reflects the most recent studies. I started – as a lot of you, I am sure – simply following traditional pizza recipes from my family or others found online. Unfortunately this often means we don’t understand what makes a pizza good or bad.
Do you need an Italian pizza oven?
It all depends on the pizza style you are going to prepare.
So let’s be clear: for Neapolitan Style Pizza you need a proper oven. In fact you need to bake pizza at high temperature. Definitely more than 400 Celsius degrees. There is no workaround, if you bake at lower temperature you are going to have a different taste as well as different crust.
For other pizza styles you can use your home oven. With some limitations though. For example, also roman style and Pinsa require quite high temperatures. Generally we bake at over 300 Celsius. However, if your home oven can achieve 300 Celsius you will be fine. I am doing Roman Pizza in my home oven at 300 Celsius. The only recommendation is to wait it becomes very hot before baking.
If you want to have more details about pizza oven I wrote a specific article about them with some guidance in case you want to buy one.
Can you share an Italian Pizza Recipe?
I can do more than that!
I share very often pizza recipes on this blog. From the side menu of this blog there is an entire category. To make it easier for you here it is: Italian pizza recipes.
Finally, if you want to get a detailed explanation on how to prepare your favorite Italian Pizza feel free to get in touch.
Can you Share Italian Pizza Sauce Recipe?
I strongly recommend you to read my article about Italian Pizza Sauce Recipe. It contains more than one pizza sauce and it explains how to prepare the sauce for Neapolitan style pizza!
In the coming months I am also going to share some other ideas to make pizza sauce not only with tomatoes. So stay tuned and make sure you subscribe to my newsletter 😉
Fresh Yeast vs dry yeast vs instant yeast
When you make pizza you need to use yeast. As you know yeast is sold in different shapes. It makes a bit of difference to use one or another and you have to follow some simple rules.
For sure you can make pizza with fresh yeast, as well as with dry and instant. Just follow rules I am sharing below.
Fresh yeast is my favorite. Easy to understand if it’s still active and very flexible when it comes to use cold water during the kneading (if you follow me on social media you know that I almost always use very cold water when kneading pizza dough).
If you do not have fresh yeast then you can use dry yeast. In this case make sure you use 1/3 of the amount of fresh yeast provided in the pizza recipe! Moreover, make sure you activate it first using a bit of lukewarm water. Don’t be afraid then to use the other water to complete the recipe at cold temperature. It’s important and enough to activate the yeast in small amount of lukewarm water.
Instant yeast is a bit easier than dry yeast, because it does not require to be activated first. Also in this case, you should use 1/3 of the amount of fresh yeast provided in the pizza recipe.
If you want to know more about yeast you can read my article here.
How much time for pizza dough fermentation
This is a tricky question. Because there is not a simple answer.
There are too many variables to consider when making pizza. Pizza dough fermentation time is influenced by the temperatures, the dough hydration, the pizza style, to mention some. So, better to start thinking from a different perspective.
Instead of thinking about time, start thinking about how much bigger than its initial size you want the pizza to grow during the fermentation. For example, in some pizza styles you want that the dough ball doubles its initial size. In other pizza styles you want to triple! This is particularly valid during the first bulk fermentation though.
The second fermentation, which is the one you do before baking, follows different rules. However, to understand if a dough ball is ready to be baked you can do the finger fermentation test:
with your index press the dough ball. If the “hole” you created stays in place then the dough ball is ready. If the dough wants to go back to its initial shape then it means that it’s not yet fermented enough.
At what temperature I bake Pizza
Baking pizza requires to use different temperatures according to the pizza style you want. Moreover we have some variables to consider, starting from the oven. Not all ovens are measuring the temperature in same way. Therefore what you read in recipes sometimes needs to be adjusted to your equipment.
To give you an idea and some ranges for various Italian pizza baking temperature you can follow the table below.
Pizza Baking Temperatures
|Pizza Style||Baking temperature range (°C)|
|Neapolitan Pizza||400-500 °C|
|Roman Pizza (teglia/baking pan)||300-360 °C|
|Round Pizza||300-350 °C|
|Milano Style Pizza||220-240 °C|
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